Members of Merlin Woods Girl Guides won a trip to East Coast Bakehouse – Ireland’s biggest biscuit factory – by selling more packets of Irish Girl Guides (IGG ) cookies during the organisation’s inaugural National Cookie Month than any other unit in the country - 1,560 packets in total.
The Ladybirds (aged five to seven ), Brownies (aged seven to 10 ) and Guides (aged 10 to 14 ) surprised their leaders by proving to be savvy businesswomen. Their initial order of 25 boxes sold quickly and they had to order more. “We were dumbstruck by the number of cookies the girls sold,” says Merlin Woods leader Sheenagh MacLaverty. “Ladybirds were the surprise successful sellers; clearly it is very difficult to say ‘no’ to a cute Ladybird bearing cookies.”
The older girls set up pop-up shops in the local community centre and local Tesco and they went into a couple of local businesses (Deloitte and EA ) where they were given permission to sell packets of cookies to staff going in and out of work. “In the end we sold 65 boxes – 1,560 packets - which meant a massive €1,560 euro for our units, which we spent on camping equipment,” said Ms MacLaverty.
Dragon’s Den investor Alison Cowzer, who co-founded East Coast Bakehouse and is mentoring members of Irish Girl Guides in their cookie-selling initiative, was so impressed by Merlin Woods successful sales that she invited the Galway girls to visit her Drogheda-based biscuit factory.
“We had an absolutely amazing workshop with Alison who told the girls in detail how the cookies are made, listened to the girls’ ideas for how to sell and did some taste and sniff tests,” said Ms MacLaverty. “We then went to visit Deloitte headquarters in Dublin for a cookie-selling strategy workshop.
“All in all, it was an awe-inspiring day. Our Brownies and Guides were so lucky to be given the opportunity to visit two very diverse business entities. We are beyond grateful to both East Coast Bakehouse and Deloitte for the marvellous opportunity this day gave our girls.”
Ms Cowzer was delighted to lend her support to the Irish Girl Guides’ cookie initiative. “It could take centuries to achieve equality without serious efforts to bring women into male-dominated spheres such as business and politics. No other organisation in Ireland is specifically working with girls to tackle the gender imbalance in business and so I am very happy to be a part of this project, which is helping foster a spirit of entrepreneurship among Irish girls and young women.”